Abe Foxman's failure to take a stand against Bloomberg's alliance with Newman and Fulani reflects deeper problems at the once proud Anti-Defamation League


Six-part August 2005 series from Mr. King's weblog

I. Foxman letter misled Brooklyn rabbis re Bloomberg's Independence Party ties

II. Deconstructing the Foxman letter

III. Nonsense from Foxman aide re the Bloomberg-Independence Party alliance

IV. Others speak out strongly--why doesn't the ADL?

V. From Marc Rich to Mike Bloomberg...Foxman's addiction to billionaires

VI. Foxman's double standard undermines the fight against Farrakhan

Part I: Foxman letter misled Brooklyn rabbis re Bloomberg's Independence Party ties

When the Orthodox rabbinical board (Vaad Harabbanim) of Flatbush endorsed Mayor Bloomberg for reelection at its June 22 annual meeting, there was a gadfly in the ointment. Rabbi David B. Hollander stood up and asked the mayor about his alliance with Lenora Fulani, the Independence Party leader who defended on NY1 News in April her 1989 statement that Jews are "mass murderers of people of color." According to Hollander, the mayor's response was to claim that Fulani is only one out of 90,000 members in the Independence Party. Hollander recalls snapping back that Fulani is in fact the leader of the party, but since no one in the audience backed him up, the mayor was able to go on to other questions as if an adequate answer had been given.

Hollander dealt with the incident in his "Sedra of the Week" column in The Jewish Press (July 8). He wrote that he had been "reluctant to ask for the floor, hoping that one of the regulars would say something." But when it became clear that no one else was going to raise the Fulani issue, "I thought of our sages' teaching, that where there are no men, you should strive to be a man." (Not surprisingly, Hollander entitled his column "Of Mice and Men"; read the full text here.)

Hollander later told me that he was not exactly thrilled when, after the meeting, some rabbis had expressed support for his position "privately yes, but publicly no."

"We are giving encouragement to anti-Semitism," he said. "Decent goyim who are against anti-Semitism can't understand this."

But there's another twist to the story. Rabbi Herbert W. Bomzer, president of the rabbinical board, told me that the reason he and other leaders didn't make an issue of the mayor's alliance with Fulani was that mayoral aides had produced a letter from Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, hailing the mayor's "principled position" on Fulani's anti-Semitism (this apparently was a reference to an April 15 statement in which the mayor said he found Fulani's remarks on NY1 to be "phenomenally offensive"). Bomzer said the board had been "satisfied" by the ADL director's letter and had decided that the mayor's Fulani connection didn't "pose a problem."

It would appear, however, that the mayor's campaign staff snookered the rabbis. For the Foxman letter (read here) is dated April 20--over a month before the mayor accepted the endorsement of the Fulani-led Independence Party and almost two months before the city's Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) declared the All Stars Project, a youth charity run by Fulani and her Marxist guru Fred Newman, eligible for a $216,000 grant to run an after-school program for children and teens. (Rabbi Bomzer told me he had been unaware of either of these developments, the latter of which was announced by the DYCD only one week before the mayor appeared at the Vaad Harabbanim meeting.)

In addition, Foxman's claim that the mayor had taken a "principled position" on Fulani's anti-Semitism was a misstatement of the facts even on April 20. The mayor had been giving money and patronage to Fulani and Newman for over four years in exchange for their political support. Far from being unaware of Fulani's bigotry, he had rebuked her in 2001 after she issued an open letter blaming the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the U.S. government's "aggression and arrogance" (as well as on its support for Israel). But the mayor did not break with Fulani's party even though she defiantly continued to display her letter on the website of the party's think tank. Indeed the mayor went on to approve an $8.7 million municipal bond for All Stars in 2002 and to give the Independence Party $250,000 from his own pocket in 2004. (For more on the mayor's lavishing of money and political support on the IP and All Stars, see Part II of this series.)

As to the mayor's April 15 statement criticizing Fulani's NY1 News remarks, the degree of courage and principle involved was minuscule at best. The mayor at first waffled on the issue and only criticized Fulani when his failure to do so appeared to be triggering a media firestorm. This motivation was clearly understood by the daily newspapers, and a New York Post editorial on April 16 pilloried the mayor:

First, he said he didn't "know what she is referring to." Then he tried to suggest Fulani doesn't represent the Independence Party--which is utter nonsense.

Yesterday, having had 24 hours to think about it, the mayor decided Fulani's remarks were "phenomenally offensive."

But offensive enough for Bloomberg to repudiate her support--as he'd threatened after 9/11 (but never followed through on)?

Not yet.

In light of events since April, one would think Abe Foxman would have withdrawn his unctuous praise of the mayor's "principled position." Yet the ADL remained silent when the mayor accepted the endorsement of Fulani's party on May 28. And the ADL likewise ignored the city's announcement of All Stars' eligibility for an after-school grant, even though the Jewish watchdog group had reported in years past on how the Newman-Fulani cult was spreading anti-Semitism through its youth work and through a theater program that has since merged with All Stars (read the ADL's 1995 report on the Newmanites here).

Rabbi Bomzer told me that although he was planning to print Foxman's letter in the Vaad Harabbanim newsletter, he would reconsider his organization's stance of non-criticism regarding the Mayor's alliance with Fulani if presented with appropriate documentation. That documentation was promptly sent. And that same week, the Jewish Press published a blistering attack by Councilman Lew Fidler on the Bloomberg-Fulani alliance (read here), calling the mayor's financial support for Fulani and the Independence Party "repulsive."

Will the Flatbush Vaad Harabbanim now do the right thing and publicly demand that the mayor break with the Independence Party and the All Stars Project once and for all?

Part II: Deconstructing the Foxman letter

ADL national director Abraham H. Foxman's April 20, 2005 letter (page image here) that gives the mayor a clean bill of health regarding his alliance with Lenora Fulani's Independence Party can only be described as a travesty of the ADL's fight against anti-Semitism. What follows is an annotated version, sentence by sentence:

"Dear Mayor Bloomberg: Time Magazine may think there are five "best" mayors, but we know that, through your creative leadership, you have shown you are the "best of the best." You and your NYC2012 Olympic team certainly showed that creativity in Berlin. It would be great for the City to host the Olympic Games. I hope the IOC will see it your way."

COMMENT: Foxman shows how eager he is to help Mayor Bloomberg get reelected, while avoiding the kind of direct endorsement that would place the ADL in clear violation of its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. This suck-up paragraph contrasts sharply with Foxman's response to pleas in past years that the ADL speak out strongly against anti-Semitic electoral candidates such as David Duke and Patrick Buchanan. When defense of Jews is needed, 501(c)(3) is the ADL director's great excuse to do nothing. When an opportunity presents itself to gain a fund-raising advantage with a billionaire politician, 501(c)(3) is out the window.

"I also want to share with you a brief observation about your principled position on the anti-Semitic statements of Lenora Fulani."

COMMENT: What "principled position"? Bloomberg has a four-year history of pretending to criticize Fulani's statements and then throwing more money at the self-styled "postmodern Bolshevik" and her guru Fred Newman. As noted in our last posting, he blasted her in 2001 for blaming the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the U.S. government, but failed to end his alliance with her Independence Party and then compensated her and Newman by approving an $8.7 million city bond so their All Stars charity could launch a "youth development center" to indoctrinate New York's kids with the "Newmanite" ideology.

Fulani and Newman then showed their utter contempt for the mayor's appeasement by putting on as their first play at the new center in January 2004 a production (written by Newman) that blamed the 1991 Crown Heights pogrom on the mayor's fellow Jews. A Bloomberg aide expressed disapproval of the play, but the city's Parks Department bought tickets to send after-school program children to see it. The mayor then rewarded Fulani and Newman with more money--this time, $250,000 from his own pocket for Independence Party activities--and by appearing on the stage with Fulani to help raise funds for the same All Stars center that had produced the Crown Heights play.

The mayor once again ran his con on New Yorkers in April 2005 after Fulani affirmed on NY1 News that she thinks Jews are "mass murderers of people of color." He called her statements "phenomenally offensive" on his WABC radio show, but said in the same breath: "I'm happy to have their [the IP's] endorsement, and I think a lot of the things they stand for I stand for as well." (The latter statement was not reported as widely in the media as the former one.)

Obtaining his letter from Foxman with which to cool out at least part of the Jewish community, the mayor went on to accept the endorsement of Newman and Fulani's party in late May. And once again the Phenomenally Offensive One and her guru received their reward: The city's Department of Youth and Community Development announced in June that their All Stars Project had been found eligible for a $216,000 grant to run an after-school program.

Where is the "principled position" here? There is none--only a four-year record of opportunism and appeasement.

"The ADL firmly believes that everyone, politicians, civic leaders, the general public, must resist giving in to political expediency whenever anyone in our City engages in divisive hateful rhetoric."

COMMENT: By praising the mayor's non-existent "principled position," Foxman himself has done the opposite of what he professes to call for. This self-appointed leader of the Jewish community has given his stamp of approval to one of the most glaring cases of "political expediency" in recent New York politics.

"Lenora Fulani's anti-Semitic statements are no exception and we sincerely hope many others will join your call to the members of the Independence Party to stand up and say no to hate, to say no to anti-Semitism."

COMMENT: The only significant organized force inside the New York City IP is the secretive Newman-Fulani cult, which provides most of the campaign workers, raises and controls the money, runs the party's think tank, furnishes the party's lawyers (who themselves are cult members), and receives the city patronage. The rest of the membership is mostly just people who have no relationship to the party machine--former Perotistas driven out of active involvement by the Newman-Fulani cult, people who simply registered with the IP thinking they were registering as "independent" voters, and several thousand members of the hospital workers union and certain civil service unions who were pressured by union leaders to register with the IP in 2002 simply to vote for Governor Pataki in that year's IP gubernatorial primary. Thus a call for IP members to say no to hate is a nonsense statement--it implies that the Newman-Fulani cult will rise up against the Newman-Fulani cult.

By ignoring the existence of the IP's cult-machine and posing the issue in terms simply of Fulani as an individual versus an amorphous mass of well-meaning party members, the ADL is basically chanting the same mantra as Bloomberg adviser Bill Cunningham--that Fulani is only one of 90,000 members in a party that magically exists without any kind of organization.

More to come on how the ADL is running interference for Mayor Bloomberg's Independence Party alliance....

Part III: Nonsense from Foxman aide re the Bloomberg-Independence Party alliance

One could argue that Foxman's April 20 letter to Mayor Bloomberg--written over a month before the mayor accepted the endorsement of an unrepentant Independence Party--was a misguided attempt to entice the mayor away from the IP with honey. But this interpretation of the letter is refuted not only by Foxman's silence over Bloomberg's post-April actions, but also by remarks of the ADL's New York regional director, Joel Levy, as quoted in the July 11, 2005 New York Observer.

"I think that the Independence Party needs to itself reject the unacceptable views of Lenora Fulani," Levy said. "People in any political party have a responsibility to be sure that its leaders stand for views that they support. And I believe that the Independence Party membership doesn't support anti-Semitism."

Here we see the same false distinction between Fulani and the rest of the IP--the same preposterous assumption that the hundreds of Newmanite cadre members in the IP are a mere cipher--that has become the mantra of the Bloomberg reelection campaign.

Fulani herself appeared to give the lie to Levy's version of the mantra by telling the Observer that (in the Observer reporter's words) "none of her Independence Party colleagues have pressed her to withdraw her inflammatory comments, despite the potential for collateral damage to the party."

Is Fulani telling the truth on this? The Observer talked to her almost three months after her remarks on NY1 News, a period during which one would think that any nominal independents on the IP state committee or county committees--i.e., those who are "useful idiots" of the Newman cult rather than actual members--would have had ample time to search their consciences and rachet up a little courage. The fact that no visible signs of outrage have come from anywhere in the IP except from tiny bands of dissidents with no capacity to influence party decisions, suggests that this is a deeply tainted organization--not the "voice of the growing centrist movement in New York politics" that Bloomberg campaign manager Kevin Sheekey called it last April, and not the benign, non-bigoted agglomeration implied by the ADL's Levy in July.

One could argue that Levy, in referring to the "responsibility" of IP members to reign in their leaders, was referring not so much to the active IP membership as to the mass of IP enrolled voters. But this would make his comments even more dishonest: The party's enrolled voters (320,000 statewide) are not responsible for the present mess; the political leaders of our city and state--who allowed themselves to be seduced by the Newman-Fulani controlled IP ballot line--are the people who created the Frankenstein monster and have the duty to slay it. It was money from Governor Pataki in 2002 and from the mayor over the past four years that financed the deceptive voter registration efforts resulting in the IP's current bloated voter rolls. And both the governor and the mayor directly participated in the deception by portraying the IP as a moderate or "centrist" political organization.

And even assuming the hapless IP enrollees would listen to Levy's lecture about their "responsibility," what could they do? They have no relationship to the party organization and no practical means of expressing their disagreement except through changing their party registration. I suggested in my open letter to Mayor Bloomberg last month ("Mr. Mayor, Tear Down This Wall!") that he put resources into mailings to the IP voter rolls to inform them of the true nature of the party leadership and to urge them to vote for him on another line. I detect no evidence that the mayor took this advice. Likewise, I see no indications that the mayor, the ADL or anyone else with clout who purports to be phenomenally offended by Ms. Fulani's April 13 remarks is beating down the doors of the tiny network of principled IP dissidents around Michael Zumbluskas to provide them with resources to wage a meaningful fight.

Given these considerations, Levy's suggestion that IP enrolled voters have the prime "responsibility" for fighting the IP leadership's bigotry is merely an attempt to avoid, at all costs, offending the real guilty parties, and especially Mayor Bloomberg.

As to the real problem inside the IP, the ADL knows full well that it's not only Fulani as an individual, but also the Independence Party cadre organization, or cult, led by Fred Newman which has moved step by step since the 1990s to gain dominance over the so-called independent political movement in New York.

How do I know that the ADL knows this? Just read the watchdog group's 1995 report on Newman and Fulani, "A Cult By Any Other Name: The New Alliance Party Dismantled and Reincarnated." (As of August 1, 2005, the ADL did not provide access to this report from its home page or its search button--possibly as a favor to the mayor--but you can find it here.)

In the report's Executive Summary, the ADL clearly defines the cadre organization that now runs the Independence Party as a "vehicle used by its behind-the-scenes leader, Dr. Fred Newman, to achieve power." Not Fulani, but Newman. Not a conglomeration of non-bigoted individuals waiting for the ADL to tell them to repudiate Fulani, but a vehicle--indeed, a political "cult"--headed by a man who, along with his acolyte Fulani, has peppered his writings and speeches with "Jew-baiting remarks."

The 29-page report describes in detail how Newman and his followers had disbanded their previous electoral front, the openly pro-revolution New Alliance Party, and were operating as a disciplined force using "deceptive tactics" in an attempt to gain control of the independent political movement inspired by H. Ross Perot. The report speaks of the Newman group's success in infiltrating Perot's Patriot Party nationally at a time when the Newmanites were already playing an important role in the New York Independence Party, the vehicle for Patriot Party style activities in our state. The report is replete with terms like "co-opt," "hijack" and "power-hungry group," and it asks: "Will it [the Newman group] succeed in dominating the Patriot Party, and does it have even larger targets in mind...?" [emphasis added}

The copyright on the report is 2001, which indicates that the ADL believed the Newman group had not changed its conspiratorial and anti-Semitic nature between 1995 and 2001. By the latter year, Newman and Fulani had in fact gained dominance over the IP and were deeply involved in supporting Michael Bloomberg's initial run for mayor.

Consider the contrast between this report and what Levy told the Observer. Are we expected to believe that the Newman "cult" (as the ADL called it in the 2001-copyrighted report) has magically changed in only four years and is now like a family of nice, sincere, tolerant people saddled with a single bigoted relative? Let's see...

* Has Fred Newman (he who once called the "Jews as a people" the worldwide "stormtroopers of decadent capitalism against people of color") changed? In 2004, his All Stars theater put on a play he wrote blaming the Crown Heights pogrom on the Jews.

* Has Jacqueline Salit (head of the IP's think tank and a frequent spokesperson for the IP itself) changed? In 2003 she sent a letter to the Forward (after the Jewish weekly published an article that quoted Fulani's 1989 "mass murderers" statement as an example of the Newman group's extremism). In her letter Salit said almost exactly what Fulani would say on NY1 in 2005--that it's not anti-Semitic to call Jews "mass murderers of people of color." And last April, a New York Times article described Salit as saying, re Fulani's NY1 performance, "that Dr. Fulani is not anti-Semitic and that those who are trying to exploit what she has said are doing so for political gain."

* Has Cathy Stewart, the chairperson of the IP's powerful New York County organization, changed? On April 17, 2005 she sent a letter to the Times (in reply to an editorial that had criticized Fulani's April 13 remarks) asking: "What are we to make of the Times' histrionics about both the Independence Party and Lenora Fulani? That New York should be content to have only two political parties and only one political position on the Middle East?"

If the Newman cult has changed, so that Fulani now only speaks as an individual, wouldn't cult members and leaders have announced it to the world? Wouldn't they have hastened to tell Fulani to zip up her mouth instead of making excuses for her? And when has any cult or extremist group turned around and renounced the fundamental principles of its own leader (which renouncing Newman's anti-Semitism would certainly amount to) unless it first engaged in a dramatic internal struggle that the media would surely hear about?

As to Levy and Foxman, is it possible that they haven't even read their own organization's report on the Newmanites? How can these ADL leaders, who solicit millions of dollars a year from the Jewish community promising to keep it safe from anti-Semitism, justify their failure to speak out forcefully and truthfully (with no political "spin") against Mayor Bloomberg's alliance with a group that the ADL's own fact-finding department defines as a power-hungry anti-Semitic cult?

Part IV: Others speak out strongly--why doesn't the ADL?

The ADL's opportunistic role in the public controversy over Mayor Bloomberg's alliance with the Newman-Fulani cult is very different from that of certain other major Jewish organizations and of most of the media. For instance, contrast Foxman's servile (and at the time, private) letter to the mayor on April 20 (read here) with the strong public statement the American Jewish Committee (AJC) issued on April 14, the day after Fulani's appearance on NY1 News.

The American Jewish Committee today called on Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to denounce anti-Semitic remarks made by Lenora Fulani; to refrain from raising more funds for her enterprises; and to reject association with the Independence Party.... (emphasis added)

Also contrast Foxman's letter with the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress) press release issued on April 20:

The Metropolitan region of the American Jewish Congress called upon public officers of all political parties to do more than merely distance themselves from statements made by...Lenora Fulani, but to demand her resignation or withdraw their own affiliations with the party. (emphasis added)

This press release went on to quote Jeff Wiesenfeld, co-President of the AJ Congress Met Region:

Fulani and her cohort Fred Newman ought to be thrown out of the party and not given a home, especially one where mainstream public leaders like Governor George Pataki, Senator Charles Schumer, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer or Mayor Michael Bloomberg lend them any bit of credibility. (emphasis added)

There is no talk here of the mayor's "principled position," but rather a clear understanding that the Mayor and other politicians are part of the problem--and that Bloomberg, Pataki, Spitzer & Co. should not just denounce Fulani's statements but break with the Independence Party that she and Newman control. (The AJC, which has been tracking the problem more closely, added that the politicians should "refrain from raising more funds" for Newman and Fulani's "enterprises"--a reference to their highly politicized youth charity, the All Stars Project.)

The ADL's position also stands in sharp contrast to what most of the New York media has been saying about the mayor's relationship with Fulani and the Independence Party. Indeed, in the wake of Fulani's now infamous remarks on NY1 News on April 13, virtually the entire media rejected the mayor's pro forma criticism of Fulani as inadequate and self-serving.

A New York Sun editorial ("Bloomberg's Soul," April 15, 2005) noted the confused and weak statements that the Mayor and his aides made on the day after Fulani's NY1 interview and pointed out that Fulani's sentiments "are not the sort of thing the mayor, or any mayoral candidate, can dodge without people starting to mutter about what price he has paid, beyond the millions he has already spent, to get the mayoralty he has wanted so much."

The New York Post in a April 16 editorial scornfully entitled "Profiles in Cowardice," stated: "It's time for New York's political establishment--led by Mayor Bloomberg--to sever all ties to the anti-Semitic hatemonger Lenora Fulani." The Post went on to criticize the state's top politicians for their unwillingness to break "all ties to her and her party." (emphasis added) It then zeroed in on the mayor with deadly effect: "Yesterday, having had 24 hours to think about it, the mayor decided Fulani's remarks were 'phenomenally offensive.' But offensive enough to repudiate her support--as he'd threatened after 9/11 (but never followed through on)? Not yet."

And a New York Times editorial (April 17) pointed out that "a lot of politicians who should know better--Senator Charles Schumer, Gov. George Pataki, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg--kowtow to groups like Dr. Fulani's so that they can have their names on the party's ballot line." The Times noted that "although he [Mayor Bloomberg] calls Dr. Fulani's remarks on Israel 'phenomenally offensive,' he plans to ask for her party's support in this year's mayoral race." The editorial ends by advising New York politicians to "stop bowing and scraping to the likes of Dr. Fulani."

Michael Goodwin wrote in the Daily News on April 17: "By refusing to sever his ties with Fulani, a classic anti-Semite wrapped in the guise of an activist, Bloomberg has put his reelection bid ahead of all else. You can't get any more political than that." And: "Bloomberg likes to say he doesn't need the job, that he would rather lose than compromise principle. Apparently what he means is that he can't be bought because he's rich. But Fulani seems to have found his price."

New York Sun columnist Andrew Wolf wrote on April 19:

The headlines and editorials will not and should not stop until our political elite realizes that the price of supporting Ms. Fulani and her party is greater than the benefit. It is not just Mr. Bloomberg who needs to re-evaluate his involvement with this crew. Governor Pataki, Senator Schumer, and Attorney General Spitzer have also been similarly compromised. It is time for them to just say no.

New York Post columnist Eric Fettmann wrote on April 21:

Sure, there were pro forma denunciations of her statement [Fulani's "mass murderers" quip] Mayor Bloomberg, Gov. Pataki, Sen. Chuck Schumer--the politicians who for years have enthusiastically courted her support. But not one of those top officials washed his hands of her--or of the Independence Party, which she controls. This despite the fact that Fulani--and her mentor, Fred Newman--have a record of such hate-filled rhetoric going back decades.

Pointing out how both Schumer and Bloomberg had spoken at annual fundraisers of Fulani's All Stars, Fettmann concluded that "all this just boggles the mind."

And how about when Bloomberg accepted the endorsement of Fulani's party the following month? While Foxman remained silent, the media did not. For instance, a Post editorial on May 28 called the mayor's excuse that Fulani is only one out of 90,000 IP members "utterly cynical nonsense." And: "Sure, he [the mayor] denounces her [Fulani's] odious remarks, though only after giving the matter some careful thought. But then he cuddles up to her just the same."

If you go to the ADL web site (as of August 1) and type in the name Fulani on the search line, the only thing that pops up is an ADL press release regarding the 2004 All Stars play that blamed the Crown Heights pogrom on the Jews (a press release that conveniently forgets to mention that the theater had been built with city money provided by Mayor Bloomberg and that the theater arts program had been given $50,000 out of the mayor's own pocket). On the controversy over Fulani's NY1 appearance in April when she reaffirmed her belief that Jews are "mass murderers of people of color"--nothing. On the controversy over the mayor accepting her party's endorsement in late May--nothing.

An anti-Semitic cult has become one of the most powerful forces in New York politics--courted by the mayor, the governor, the state attorney general, the state senate majority leader, the state's senior U.S. senator, several members of the state's congressional delegation, and dozens of state and local legislators. The center of the cult's power is in New York City, which has the largest concentration of Jews anywhere in the world outside of Israel. The cult has infiltrated children's charities, high school counseling programs, and now the city's after-school programs. It has a systematic plan to recruit New York's young people through its "social therapy" and to indoctrinate them with its bigotry and its totalitarian ideology.

And where is Abe Foxman? Scheming how to get a fat check for his fundraising drive from the mayor responsible for this mess....

Part V: From Marc Rich to Mike Bloomberg...Foxman's addiction to billionaires

The ADL's role in running political interference for the Bloomberg-Independence Party alliance is best understood as reflecting Abe Foxman's longstanding focus on opportunistic fund-raising rather than any kind of principled fight against anti-Semitism. In this context, Foxman's artful effort on behalf of New York's billionaire Republican mayor, Michael Bloomberg, bears comparison with his role in winning a presidential pardon for billionaire tax cheat Marc Rich in 2001. The pardon, which was signed by Bill Clinton on his last day in office at the request of Foxman, triggered a storm of Congressional and media protest.

Advocates for convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence while spies for America's enemies have usually received much lighter sentences, charged that Foxman had sold out Pollard (by presenting the Rich pardon to Clinton as an easy choice that would be a favor to the ADL and would enable the President to avoid making a decision on the much more controversial Pollard case). Rich, a fugitive living in Switzerland, paid back Foxman by making donations totalling $250,000 to the ADL.

Some in the Jewish community called for Foxman to be fired, but there was no one to do the deed--he had already purged his critics from the ADL regional directorships and the ADL national commission.

After the initial public outrage over his role in the pardon had died down, Foxman said of the incident to Forward reporter Rachel Donadio,"I'm not 100% sure that it's so terrible as it's made out to be." Donadio wrote that when she asked Foxman if the ADL would accept money from Rich in the future, he refused to comment.

Meanwhile Mr. Rich, a sociopathic swindler with no loyalty to the United States or Israel, went on to help the Saddam Hussein regime manipulate the UN's oil-for-food program, generating cash that U.S. investigators believe was used in part to reward the families of intifada suicide bombers. He is now, again, under federal investigation.

Next there was the ADL dinner Foxman organized for Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian media billionaire turned prime minister, at Manhattan's Plaza Hotel in September 2003. Three weeks before the dinner, Berlusconi indiscreetly praised fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, Hitler's closest ally in World War Two, saying that "Mussolini never killed anyone. Mussolini sent people away on vacation, in internal exile."

When challenged on this, Berlusconi (whose 1994 government had been the first since Mussolini's day to include former fascists, and whose current government has included them on its highest levels since 2001) said that he had merely meant to say that Il Duce was not in the same league with Saddam Hussein.

This excuse was absurd on the face of it: If you add up all the people Mussolini's regime slaughtered in Libya during two decades of colonial genocide; Ethiopia, where his pilots used poison gas Chemical Ali-style during the infamous invasion of 1935-36; Spain, where his troops fought for Franco; Russia, where Italian divisions participated in the 1941 Nazi invasion; Albania, which Italy grabbed in 1939; and Greece, invaded in 1940--plus all the Italians who died during the Allied invasion and later at the hands of German occupiers--Mussolini was without a doubt a Hussein-class murderer if not quite in Hitler or Stalin's Superbowl category.

The Italian Jewish community was especially appalled by Berlusconi's statement because of the 7,000 Italian Jews deported as a result of Il Duce's policies to "vacations" in Hitler's death camps. The Forward (Sept. 26, 2003) quoted Tullia Zevi, past president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities: "I suggested that he [Foxman] postpone it [the dinner]. To celebrate a man who has said such things is insulting the memory of these people who suffered under these times."

Foxman not only went ahead with the dinner (having induced not-quite-billionaire Leonard Riggio of Barnes & Noble to chair it) but also rewarded Berlusconi with the ADL's "Distinguished Statesman" award. The ADL director justified this by saying Berlusconi was more friendly to Israel than were other European leaders. (Note: Abe Foxman is not the foreign minister of Israel; he is the director of an American nonprofit with the purported mission of combating extremists--including hate groups and Holocaust deniers who doubtless applauded Berlusconi's remarks. Foxman had no business organizing the Berlusconi dinner in the first place, and once the Italian leader's offensive remarks were made public, the ADL should have canceled the event because of the conflict of interest it created with the ADL's primary mission.)

A fitting footnote to Berlusconi's receipt of the ADL distinguished statesman award was his appointment of Gianfranco Fini, leader of the former fascist National Alliance, as his foreign minister in 2004. This is the same Fini who claimed in 1994 that Mussolini was "the greatest statesman of the 20th century."

Now we see a replay of the Rich scandal and the Berlusconi embarrassment in Foxman's attempts to be useful to Mayor Bloomberg. To suggest what may be motivating Foxman, we quote from a New York Post article ("Sweet Charity: Mayor Mike plans to offload media empire," Jan. 11, 2005):

Mayor Michael Bloomberg may be getting ready to sell his financial information giant to fund a mammoth philanthropic effort after he quits public office.

Bloomberg L.P.--the media and financial information company that is the source of much of his wealth--will be sold to finance the charitable binge, he said recently....

Bloomberg said he views the charitable giving of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and wife Melinda as a model he'd like to emulate.

"I've watched the Gateses. Some of my priorities aren't exactly the same as theirs, but they've really gotten involved in philanthropy on a scale the world has never seen before."

Is it any surprise that Foxman wrote to Bloomberg in April to tell him he was the "best of the best" and to offer, in effect, to go to bat for the mayor at a moment when the latter was under attack for his close involvement with the anti-Semitic Newman-Fulani organization? In the months since then, the ADL has avoided any criticism of the mayor's Independence Party ties whatsoever, either direct or indirect, and has fallen into line with the mayor's campaign spin doctors to suggest that Fulani is only one person in a party of basically good people.

The ADL has thus become complicit in the Bloomberg-IP alliance--a sordid deal that has bestowed great political influence on Newman and Fulani as well as providing them with the financial resources to indoctrinate New York's kids on a significant scale (Newman and Fulani leveraged their $8.7 million All Stars loan from the Bloomberg administration into tens of millions of dollars in private donations).

The loan to All Stars could have been easily stopped in 2002 if the ADL leadership had been on its toes and Foxman had himself gone to public hearings of the city's Industrial Development Agency to denounce the proposal. But Foxman, whose organization receives roughly $40 million a year from Jews who expect it to handle this type of problem, ignored the All Stars bond proposal even after the media warned of its provisional (first stage) approval in December 2001.

Although it is true than no other major Jewish organization stepped into the breach at that time, some of these groups are now trying to force the mayor to sever his ties to the Independence Party, All Stars and the entire Newman-Fulani network.

The ADL, however, is playing no visible role in such efforts. Clearly it needs a new national director who will reorder its priorities away from begging money from billionaires and back to its original mission of waging a principled fight against bigotry and extremism.

Part VI: Foxman's double standard undermines fight against Farrakhan

If one visits the ADL home page, one will find (as of Aug. 10, 2005) a prominently displayed link with the title "African-American Leaders Urged to Reconsider Support for the 'Millions More Movement.'" This link goes to a May 2 ADL press release on Louis Farrakhan's planned 10th anniversary commemoration of the Million Man March, to be held Oct.14-16 in Washington DC.

The statement begins: "Saddened and disheartened by their possible involvement in the 'Millions More Movement', the Anti-Defamation League is urging prominent African-American leaders to reconsider their support for the march and its anti-Semitic organizers, MInister Louis Farrakhan and Malik Zulu Shabazz."

The press release says that the ADL had sent letters to over 30 prominent black leaders, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Julian Bond, Rev. Floyd Flake and U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, expressing the watchdog agency's concern that the involvement of Farrakhan and Shabazz would "taint the proceeding with the baggage of anti-Semitism and hate."

ADL national director Abe Foxman is quoted as saying, "We cannot understand why good people continue to tolerate this outrage of anti-Semitic views and behavior. It seems there is a line of denial--indeed a blind spot among many--within the African-American community when it comes to anti-Semitism."

All this is accurate enough and needed to be said. But if one searches the ADL home page and indeed the entire ADL website, one finds no press release indicating that a similar letter has been sent to prominent white political leaders, either Jewish or gentile, who are involved with the Independence Party led by Fred Newman and Lenora Fulani.

Pardon me, but is there a racial double standard here? Newman and Fulani may not be able to draw the types of crowds that Farrakhan does. But they have built a powerful political machine in New York that has made them extremely influential, and they have friends in high places to a degree that Farrakhan will never have.

It is high time that the ADL supplement its public appeal to African-American leaders regarding the Farrakhan rally with an equally public appeal, re Newman and Fulani, to:

  • Hungarian-American leader George Pataki (Governor of New York);
  • Italian-American leader Joe Bruno (New York State Senate Majority leader);
  • Lebanese-American leader Jeanine Ferris Pirro (Westchester County District Attorney); and
  • Jewish-American leaders Michael Bloomberg (Mayor of New York), Chuck Schumer (senior U.S. Senator from New York) and Eliot Spitzer (New York State Attorney General).
  • The ADL has challenged Black leaders by name to distance themselves from the Farrakhan rally, but has issued no public criticism of white leaders who appear at public functions of the Newman-Fulani cult to praise its goals--and who steer millions of dollars in public and private funds to its political and charitable fronts. It would appear that if the ADL raises this issue at all, it is through unctuous private communications like Foxman's April 20 letter to Bloomberg (read here) that carefully avoid giving offense on any level.

    And why, especially, are Bloomberg, Schumer and Spitzer let off the hook? Is the ADL going to justify itself with the old chestnut that it doesn't believe in criticizing "co-religionists"? Don't even try it, Abe. It's too well known in the Jewish community that you have a double standard towards your fellow Jews, attacking those you want to attack (including those who criticized your role as the pardon pimp for Marc Rich) and showering compliments on those you hope to get big donations from.

    As to public criticism of Jewish individuals by the ADL as an organization, the watchdog group's website contains strong (and to my mind, fully justified) attacks on leftwing Israel-bashers Noam Chomsky and Adam Shapiro. This type of criticism has long been ADL policy. For instance, the ADL's 1995 report on the Newman-Fulani group ("A Cult By Any Other Name") points out that Newman is Jewish yet blasts him for his anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements and for functioning as a power-hungry cult leader. As late as January 2004, an ADL press release criticized Newman's play "Crown Heights" as anti-Semitic for its portrayal of a scenario in which Jews are blamed for starting the 1991 pogrom.

    So, why not criticize Michael Bloomberg? He doesn't make anti-Semitic statements or write anti-Semitic plays but he arranged for Newman and Fulani, whom he knows damn well are hate-mongers, to get an $8.7 million municipal bond to purchase and renovate the theater where they produced their infamous play--and he even gave them $50,000 out of his pocket via the Carnegie Foundation for their theater arts program. Then, when he found out that his and the city's resources had been used to insult and smear his co-religionists, he not only failed to pull the plug on Newman and Fulani's operation but also gave them an additional $250,000 for their so-called Independence Party (and lied about it to the Jewish community and the general public by calling the IP a "centrist" force).

    If Newman is the anti-Semite, both as agitator and playwright, Mayor Bloomberg is his enabler--and deserves harsh, public, and unremitting criticism on this point (as indeed he has received from the New York Post and others while Foxman remains silent).

    The first line of defense of the American Jewish community since World War Two has been its ability to appeal to the large majority of the American people who believe that overt expressions of anti-Semitism are morally wrong. But to retain and extend that majority, especially among segments of the population where anti-Semitic sentiments linger to a larger than average extent, it is important that the ADL--the best-known of all the major Jewish organizations--maintain a consistent moral position. It is not enough to condemn anti-Semitism at one end of the political spectrum while letting those at the other end off the hook. It is not enough to call on black leaders to repudiate a Jew-hater in their midst but to remain silent about white leaders who cozy up to the likes of Newman and Fulani.

    Foxman's double standard regarding our billionaire mayor's pet bigots can only end up furnishing black leaders with an excuse (of sorts) to ignore his plea regarding the "Millions More Movement." Fortunately the ADL leader does not speak for the Jewish community as a whole. Certain other Jewish organizations have maintained a somewhat more consistent moral standard over the years. But any recipient of Foxman's May 2 letter who is still musing over how much support they should give to the Millions More Movement are not likely to see this larger picture--it is the ADL, not the other major Jewish organizations, that threw the stone from inside its glass house.

    Mr. Foxman, if you want Jesse Jackson and other black leaders to do the right thing and boycott or at least downgrade their role in Farrakhan's rally, it is incumbent on you to do everything in your power to get Michael Bloomberg, George Pataki and other white politicians in New York to also do the right thing--by severing their ties with Newman and Fulani's Independence Party.

    ADDENDUM: On Sept. 5, 2005, I went to the search button on the ADL home page again and typed in "Fulani," "Fred Newman" and "Farrakhan." The number of hits were as follows: Fulani: 0; Fred Newman: 0; Farrakhan: 160.